We’ve been treated to an explosion of online content as most of the world is in lockdown, from online fitness classes to live cooking guides to activity schedules for the kids. While we’re not planning on starting our own cooking channel anytime soon, we’ve picked our three favourite South African recipes that highlight everything we love about our country’s cuisine. We hope you enjoy making them as much as we enjoyed eating them!

Melk Tert (Milk Tart)

milk tart lockdown recipes

This classic dessert consists of a sweet pastry crust filled with a mild, creamy custard dusted with cinnamon. It is omnipresent in South Africa and is found everywhere from bakeries and supermarkets to braais (BBQs) and weddings. It originated with the Dutch settlers who arrived in the Cape in the 1600s.

Milk Tart Recipe

Makes 2 regular tarts or one giant one.

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 250g margarine
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2eggs
  • 1 tbsp custard powder
  • 4 cups flour

Filling Ingredients:

  • 6 cups milk
  • 6 eggs (separated)
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter

Instructions:

  1. To make the pastry, beat the margarine until creamy and light. Slowly add the sugar – about 1/4 cup at a time. Beat well.
  2. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and custard powder together.
  4. Knead the pastry until well mixed. Do not add any liquid.
  5. Press into buttered pie plates and bake at 200 Celsius for 10-12 minutes.
  6. To make the filling, mix the flour with 1 ½ cups of milk. Heat up the rest of the milk and add the flour mixture before the milk starts boiling.
  7. Turn the heat down a little and stir until the mixture is cooked.
  8. Add the butter, sugar and yolk of eggs. Add the vanilla essence. Add the stiffly beaten white of eggs.
  9. Place the filling in the pastry. If you want to serve the tart warm, put back in the oven until heated.
  10. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and serve.

Roosterkoek (‘Grilled Cake’)

Don’t be fooled by the name – this is not chocolate cake cooked under the grill! Roosterkoek is a traditional bread that accompanies a South African braai (BBQ). It is simply balls of bread dough cooked on a grid over hot coals and best eaten piping hot and straight off the grill with melted butter. The trickiest part is getting a feel for how bread dough should feel after a proper kneading. Don’t be put off though; make like a true South African and crack a confidence boosting beer while you cook.

Roosterkoek Recipe

Ingredients: (makes 12 decent-sized roosterkoeks)

  • 1 kg cake flour
  • 10 g instant yeast
  • 25ml sugar
  • 10ml salt
  • Roughly 2 cups of lukewarm water in a jug
  • 50ml olive oil

Instructions: 

  1. Sift the four into a bowl that is at least 3 times as big as 1 kg of flour. If you only have a 1 kg bag of four and no more, save a little for step 9.
  2. Add the yeast and sugar to the flour and mix thoroughly with your clean hand. Add the salt and toss the mixture around some more.
  3. Pour in the lukewarm water bit by bit and keep kneading the dough. As soon as there is no dry flour left, you’ve added enough water. Take care not to add too much water, as this will lead to the dough being runny and falling through the grid. For 1 kg of flour you’ll use just a tiny bit more than 2 cups of water.
  4. Once the water is absorbed, add the olive oil.
  5. Knead the dough well for about 10 minutes until none of it sticks to your fingers and it forms one big pliable piece.
  6. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and put in a warm area for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the kitchen towel and knead the dough again for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Replace the kitchen towel and let it rise for at least 30 minutes.
  9. Flatten the dough onto a table that is covered in flour and lightly sprinkle flour on top of the dough. Use your hands and a rolling pin to create a rectangular piece of dough.
  10. Use a sharp knife and cut the dough into squares, then let them rise for a few minutes one final time.
  11. Bake over very gentle coals for about 15–20 minutes, turning often. A roosterkoek is ready when it sounds hollow when you tap on it. Alternatively, insert a knife into them and ensure it comes out clean.
  12. Serve hot as an accompaniment to your braai, or with melted butter and cheese for a delicious lunch.

Bobotie

Bobotie is a traditional Cape Malay dish comprised of spiced minced lamb or beef topped with an egg-and-milk layer that is then browned in the oven. If that sounds strange to you, that’s ok – Bobotie is often met with skepticism by visitors until they taste it. Then they can’t get enough and clamour for the recipe to take home!

Bobotie Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 kg ground beef mince
  • 4 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper to season
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fine apricot jam
  • 1/2 cup chutney
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 slices of white bread, soaked in milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 500 ml milk
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Method

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic.
  2. Add the beef mince and brown – you can add ½ cup of water to help with the browning of the meat. This will take about 10 minutes.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine the curry powder, turmeric, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, jam, chutney, sugar, tomato sauce and soaked bread. Mix until combined.
  4. Add the sauce to the browned meat, and simmer for 30 minutes, mixing through regularly.
  5. Transfer the meat to an oven safe baking dish.
  6. In a mixing bowl – combine the eggs, milk and seasoning. Gently pour the egg mixture over the meat and add the bay leaves.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius until the egg has set.
  8. Serve with yellow rice, sweet pumpkin and green bean mash.